Monday, April 23, 2012

Photos from JUURI's Japanese Festival in Norman

Thanks to everyone who came out to my rescheduled Art Show and Japanese Festival in Norman! Though the Japanese dancers and taiko troupe weren't able to make it due to the re-schedulement, we still had plenty of okonomiyaki for the guests, and hopefully everyone enjoyed the event! A special thank-you goes to my amazing artist buddy Yui who helped me put on the yukata and tie the obi!

↓ Yui cooking okonomiyaki

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Many of the art pieces at the show are still available to purchase, so contact Mainsite Gallery at (405) 360-1162 or email nac (at) if anything catches your eye~

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview with Superstar Thinkspace Artist Nathan DeYoung


I don't remember how I first discovered Nathan DeYoung, but now, everyone knows about him. Oh, here's my initial blog post of me raving about his awesome works. These days, his career is advancing like crazy and he recently had a show at Thinkspace Gallery. I think this San Diego boy will go straight to the top!

Not only is he über talented, but he's also super duper nice and agreed to answer a few of my questions for your reading pleasure. Here 'tis!

J: Your work is so totally unique to anything else I've seen. How did you develop your style? What drives you to express yourself in this way?

ND: My work is definitely a reflection of my personality and everything that inspires me. I didn't use to think so, but over the years it has definitely become very clear that my personality is very much infused into each work. I think like most artists, my style has come from years and years of practice and fine tuning, as well as seeing things I like and trying to put my touch on them so that they can fit into my work. My drive to create has definitely changed significantly since I first started painting.


When I first started painting 10 years ago (hard to believe its been 10 years now) I didn't take my work very seriously, I was intimated by paint and it made me want to keep this friendly distance with it, so I was could still explore it but not be so frustrated by the fact that I really had no technical knowledge or any real idea of what I was doing. As time passed I really became attached to painting and began using the media as an outlet for various ideas and experiences I was having and this really encouraged me to want to learn more about painting and techniques so that I could grow my work. This encouraged me to seek out talented and willing mentors who helped guide me in my journey, and this is when everything began to click.


I began painting obsessively, as soon as I got home from work I would paint for countless hours everyday, nonstop. I began to connect with my work in ways I hadn't known before and I really felt like I had found my purpose. It was around this time that I started having shows in galleries and was able to share my work with others, which was also something new and exciting and it helped grow my addiction to want to create and it opened a lot of doors that I had never thought possible.


I would have never believed someone if they could have told me 6 or 7 years ago all the things I would be doing with my work and I feel very grateful and honored to have been able to do those things. But like most things in life balance is key and for the past couple of years my life has been very out of balance. Between working a more than full time day job and commuting back and forth over 2 hours everyday and than coming home and painting and preparing for shows I have been experiencing a lot of exhaustion and burn out and I feel like my work is suffering because of it, and this has encouraged me to take some time off to re-connect, and regain that relationship with my work without any pressure of show deadlines.


I still have and always will have a great passion for painting and I have a lot of paintings still to be made but I think every now and again its important to step back so that you can evaluate where you have been so you can decide where you would like to go and right now that is encouraging some new directions and ideas which is exciting.


J: You said that a painting may take 100-200 hours to complete. That's a long time! Do you ever get bored with a piece halfway through? If so, how do you keep going?

ND: Yes, I use a glazing technique that is very tedious and time intensive, and it usually does take hundreds of hours especially with larger works to complete my paintings. People that have seen me work live usually cant believe the way the paintings come together and how slow things actually move, and while I'm sure there are faster ways to paint and such this is the way I have learned to paint and I do appreciate the results and the relationship I build with the work during that long duration of time. However, with that being said, it can be extremely frustrating working the way I do and I do often experience long periods of boredom, frustration, burn out etc. I think the only way I keep myself going is discipline, the understanding that every part of the process is necessary to reach the final product and the hope that it will all be worth it in the end.


J: Do the color schemes and interesting dimensions of your works just "happen", or do you plan everything out carefully before starting?

ND: I am always experimenting with my process. Usually things like composition, color scheme, and theme are pre-planned but its the level of planning that I am always playing with. I think the best balance for me personally is to have a good idea of what I am shooting for but leave enough slack in the planning process that I don't become hell-bent on "IT HAS TO BE THIS OR ITS NOT RIGHT!" mentality because that has caused me to hate and ruin a lot of work not because it was necessarily "bad" or "wrong" but because I had a very specific idea I was shooting for and I wasn't able to successfully achieve that look.


I have also discovered that because my work takes so long, I like to have some elements that are surprises for me. I like to get something pretty close to what I had thought and than take some big risks so that it feels fresh and new to me even after hundreds of hours of looking at and working on a piece. 


J: You are a superstar lately being featured in all the best mags and with Thinkspace shows under your belt! What advice would you give the young version of yourself, when you were just starting out in the art scene?

ND: I am so lucky to have been given the opportunities I have had so far. Like I said earlier I would have never believed I would have been able to do the things I have been able to be a part of and I send huge thanks to everyone for letting me have such wonderful opportunities.


If I had to offer any advice it would be to work very hard and to create your work with honesty and integrity. In so many ways the art world is very small and so many things are out of your control but your work ethic and integrity are something you do have control over and those things will determine how your work stands.  

J: Thanks so much for the splendid interview and wise advise! We can't wait to watch your progress. Cheers! <3 JUURI

Monday, April 9, 2012

Japanese Festival in Norman!


Back in 2011, amidst all my talk about being way too busy and not having time to do anything, I momentarily lost my mind and applied to the Norman Arts Council's Individual Artist Awards. We were to come up with an art project that we wanted to share with the community, and, if we were selected, we'd be able to bring our project to life at Mainsite Gallery on Main St.

So I ended up being selected after all, and my extreme crunch time is coming to fruition this Friday, April 20th! I don't know why I keep getting myself into these things, but due to the fact that I keep doing it, I must secretly be in love with working under pressure. ^^

So anyway, the event, which I've

titled "Japanese Festival in Norman!" will include my newest art pieces (four large pieces and four small drawings), along with handmade hot-off-the-grill okonomiyaki! If you are in the vicinity, please do come join the fun!

This event will be part of Norman's 2nd Friday Art circuit which is actually rescheduled to the 3rd Friday of this month due to a tornado outbreak on the true 2nd Friday. Hopefully this time, the galleries/shops will be open on Main St. It should be a fun time! (Of course, the night's events are all free of charge.)

Here is a snippet of the works that I'll show.

↓ "Happy Now? Photobucket ↓ "Snow Girl" Photobucket ↓ "Rain Boy" (Detail) Photobucket ↓ "Hollyhock Warrior" (Detail) Photobucket ↓ "Camellia Girl" (Detail) Photobucket ↓ "May I Come Out Now?" (Detail) Photobucket

Monday, April 2, 2012

Inspirations & Feelings from my Japan Visit.

↑ "Genki (Lively) for Japan"

Trips to Japan are very invigorating for my artist's mind. Since my Japanese heritage, culture, and history are the muse for my work, it's important for me to go back from time-to-time so I don't get isolated and forgetful... like someone who is observing these things from far off. I must record my inspirations (often just moods or feelings) because they are even more fleeting than cherry blossoms, and they seem to dissipate into thin air as soon as I leave Japan!

By the bye, I bought this fantastic kimono photography book at Book Off at the unbeatable price of ¥105 (a little more than $1) and it happens to perfectly capture many of the moods I'm trying to convey below. So I'll use photos from the book to illustrate my memories. Let it be known that the photos from this magazine are not my own. (The others are.)


The things I noticed this time in Japan were small things. Mundane things. Things that no-one really thinks about, but I find resonate deeply in my mind somehow. Things like the sound of my feet on the tatami. A hollow sort of thumping sound that makes me think of summer, sweating like crazy, taking a nap on the tatami, hearing the sound of furin (wind chime), drinking an icy cold lamune (lime soda.) Getting ready to go to the fireworks festival. Or just lying there, being lazy and enjoying every cool breeze that comes along.
The way that every single little odd-shaped crevice between/in front of buildings is filled with cheap plastic planters of amazing colorful flowers. They are all manicured so neatly. No rubbish on the ground. Just tidy colors enjoying the sunlight or shade.


Bamboo groves. They are deliciously quiet and dark only a few feet in. I guess the bamboo leaves on the forest floor absorb sound. The rustle of the leaves shaking in the wind. Swaying. Light green, dark green. The marked stalks. Thick and shiny.


The dizzying variety of plants everywhere. Flowers. Hot pink. And of course, plum and cherry blossoms in the spring.

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Those yellow power line covers. "とまれ (stop)" on the ground. Tiny circle-stamped pavement.


Yellow bumpy-blocks for the blind.


Crevices between tightly-packed buildings. Teensy sidewalks. Ornate manhole covers. Evenly-spaced cutout patterns in cinder-block walls.


The dark stains of rain having come down over and over again.


Power lines everywhere. Telephone wires. Pipes on old concrete buildings. It seems sort of excessive, but the lines are knit together with vines, plants, tree branches, twigs, grass.


How fiercely Japanese love their tradition and culture. Even though they sometimes claim to like Western culture better, underneath every Japanese is super proud of all that history, that unique elegance. How young people these days wish they knew how to wear kimono. How anyone is proud to explain tradition or history to someone who doesn't know.


Sorry if this entry was boring or made no sense. But I had to write it down before I forgot. I forget so easily.

I just need to live there.